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Highlights from Just Enough Research by Erika Hall - User Experience Abu Dhabi Meetup - UX UAE


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The User Experience (UX) Abu Dhabi Meetup is a monthly gathering for UX practioners, UX fanatics and anyone curious about User Experience Design. All are welcome! UX Abu Dhabi is sponsored by UX UAE which looks to grow User Experience awareness and practice in the UAE and MENA.

This presentation was created for the October 2014 meetup and has highlights from the book Just Enough Research by Erika Hall .

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Highlights from Just Enough Research by Erika Hall - User Experience Abu Dhabi Meetup - UX UAE

  1. 1. 1 Just Enough Research @uxAbuDhabi
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  3. 3. Welcome • Introductions • Name • What you do? • A positive or negative experience you recently discovered from users • Thoughts on #uxResearch 3
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  5. 5. Lean Startup & Lean UX 2 Day Bootcamp • Will Evans is a world recognized expert in Lean Systems, LeanUX and Design Thinking to global corporations from NYC to Berlin to Singapore. Will is also the Design Thinker-in-Residence at NYU Stern’s Berkley Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, where he lectures and consults on Design Thinking, Lean UX, and Lean Startup methodologies. • He lives in New York, NY, and drinks far too much coffee. He Co-Founded and Co-Chaired the LeanUX NYC conference, and is the User Experience track chair for the Agile 2013 and Agile 2014 conferences. • Discount code - meetupvip the first 10 people from UX Abu Dhabi Meetup will receive a 10% discount for early bird tickets purchased by Dec 1st • 5
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  8. 8. 8 Just Enough Research
  9. 9. Research is a tool—a periscope offering you a better view of your surroundings.
  10. 10. Once you start getting answers, you’ll keep asking more questions. And that skeptical mind-set is more valuable than any specific methodology.
  11. 11. The better you know the current state of things and why they’re like that, the better you will be positioned to innovate.
  12. 12. Avoid arguments about statistical significance; you will not win. Instead, keep the focus on gathering useful insights.
  13. 13. Research is just another name for critical thinking. With a little encouragement, everyone on your team can open their minds and embrace it. And together, we can fix it so no one contemplating a web project ever mentions focus groups again.
  14. 14. People who have a hand in collecting the insights will look for opportunities to apply them. Being the smart person is more fun than obeying the smart person, which is how the researcher/designer dynamic can feel if designers are merely the recipients of the analysis.
  15. 15. Your desire to find out needs to be stronger than your desire to predict. Otherwise you’ll be a mess of confirmation bias, looking for answers that confirm what you already assume.
  16. 16. You need to be able to depersonalize the work. There are no hurt feelings or bruised toes in research, only findings.
  17. 17. Unless this knowledge comes from recent inquiry specific to your current goals, a fresh look will be helpful. Familiarity breeds assumptions and blind spots.
  18. 18. Research needs to be integrated into process and workflow or it will get shoved in a corner.
  19. 19. “Poor user experiences inevitably come from poorly informed design teams.” - Jared M. Spool, founder of User Interface Engineering Design happens in context. And research is simply understanding that context.
  20. 20. Research happens in a context as well. Your professional environment should inform the research activities you choose and how you go about them.
  21. 21. Instead, you have to commit to research personally as part of how you work, make your case for it, and be sure to include it in your fee. Research will make your design stronger and enhance your ability to defend your decisions to the client.
  22. 22. An existing product means that a glorious data trove exists: customer service! Customer service is where actual, individual human needs and expectations crash headfirst into reality. If you have ready access to the customer service representatives, talk to them.
  23. 23. “There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns— that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns—there are things we do not know we don’t know.” - Donald Rumsfeld, former US secretary of defense
  24. 24. Addition to offering the clarity and confidence necessary to design, research is essential to reducing your risk—the risk you incur by relying on assumptions that turn out to be wrong or by failing to focus on what’s most important to your business and your users. However, some assumptions are higher-risk than others.
  25. 25. Better understanding of online shoppers mitigates the risk by validating the assumption and informing your design with real user priorities. In addition, you might uncover opportunities to provide something of even greater value to that same audience.
  26. 26. All it takes to turn potential hindsight into happy foresight is keeping your eyes open and asking the right questions. Failing isn’t the only way to learn.
  27. 27. No matter how much research you do, there will still be things you wish you’d known, and there are some things you can only learn once your design is out there in the world. Design is an iterative process.
  28. 28. Questions will continue to crop up. Some of them you can answer with research and some you can only answer with design.
  29. 29. 1. Define the problem. 2. Select the approach. 3. Plan and prepare for the research. 4. Collect the data. 5. Analyze the data. 6. Report the results.
  30. 30. 1. Define the problem You need a clear problem statement to describe your topic and goal 'the WHAT' so you know when you're finished
  31. 31. 2. Select the approach If your question is about users themselves, you’ll be doing user research, or ethnography. If you want to assess an existing or potential design solution, you’ll be doing some sort of evaluative research. As a single question comes into focus you might conduct multiple studies or take one of several potential approaches
  32. 32. Fig 3.1: The topic and nature of your questions will guide your choice of research activities.
  33. 33. 3. Plan and prepare for the research • In the beginning, don’t worry about getting everything right. If you don’t know, go with your best guess. Since research is about seeking out new information, you’re going to encounter new situations and unpredictable circumstances. Make friends with the unexpected. And prepare to change the plan you’ve made to adapt once you have facts.
  34. 34. 4. Collect the data • A simple interview remains the most effective way to get inside another person’s head and see the world as they do. It is a core research technique with many applications. • Once you are comfortable conducting research interviews, you can apply this skill to any situation in which you need to extract information from another person.
  35. 35. 5. Analyze the data • What does it all mean? Once you have collected the data, gather it all together and look for meaningful patterns. Turn the patterns into observations, and from those, recommendations will emerge. • Refer to your initial problem statement and ask how the patterns answer the questions you originally posed.
  36. 36. 6. Report the results • The output of the analysis session is generally a summary report and one or more models.
  37. 37. AND REPEAT • The only way to design systems that succeed for imperfect humans in the messy real world is to get out and talk to people in the messy real world. • Once you start researching, you won’t feel right designing without it.
  38. 38. Conclusion • Every time you find a product or service that’s a joy to use, meets a need maybe you didn’t even know you had, and fits seamlessly into your life, you know that someone on the other end asked hard questions. 38
  39. 39. Next UX Abu Dhabi Meetup 39 • Nov 17 @ 6.30pm This year we are going to celebrate World Usability Day in the UAE by doing something a little different. The plan is to have a session were you can bring in your app or site and get a quick free expert usability critique. There may even be a talk, more details soon, so lock this into your calendar.
  40. 40. Next UX UAE Meetup 40 • Tue Nov 25th @ 6.30pm Steve Baty, principal at Meld Studios, has over 14 years experience as a design and strategy practitioner. Steve is well-known in the area of experience strategy and design, contributing to public discourse on these topics through articles and conferences. Steve serves as Vice President of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA); is a regular contributor to; serves as an editor and contributor to Johnny Holland (, and is the founder of UX Book Club – a world-wide initiative bringing together user experience practitioners in over 80 locations to read, connect and discuss books on user experience design. Steve is co-Chair of UX Australia – Australia’s leading conference for User Experience practitioners; and Chair of Interaction 12 – the annual conference of the IxDA for 2012.